Smart Metering

Electricity meters are installed in almost every Australian home and business and have three uses:

  1. Metrology - measuring electricity consumption for market and billing purposes.
  2. Customer products and services - like the control of a customer’s load; customer information on energy use; disconnection & reconnection and potential new services such as remote control of appliances in smart applications.
  3. Network control & management services - supporting reliability, outage recovery, load management to defer network augmentation, and (with smart meters) enabling intelligent networks.

Types of Electricity Meters

Accumulation meters

  • Currently in place in approximately 70%of Australia homes and businesses.
  • Only record the total electricity consumption since the last meter reading (typically three months).
  • Do not permit tariffs which reward customers for using less energy at peak times (ie. time varying tariffs).
  • Data is read manually from the meter at a consumer’s premises.
  • May be used by Networks in conjunction with simple load control devices , such as ripple control, to provide benefits to all users

Interval meters

  • Relatively low level of use, except for large commercial and industrial customers.
  •  Can record both total electricity consumption and when it occurs (eg. half hourly intervals).
  • Permit tariffs which reward customers for using less energy at peak times (ie. Time varying tariffs).
  • Data may be retrieved manually at the premises or may be read remotely via communication technology (that is, without having to visit the consumer premises).
  • May be used by Networks in conjunction with simple load control devices , such as ripple control, to provide benefits to all users.

Smart meters

  • In use in Victoria and some NSW locations.
  • Have all the capabilities of Interval Meters and communication technology enabling data to be retrieved remotely.
  • Enables additional functions such as remote energisation and de-energisation and appliance control
  • Improve network performance, including reliability and quality of supply, and permit fault identification and network load management.
  • Can link to household devices such as through a Home Area Network (HAN) and In Home Display (IHD) to enable instant access for the consumer to their electricity use profile.

The "Split" Benefit of Smart Meters

Electricity meters provide services needed by individual customers, retailers, distributors and other service providers. They are already an essential part of our electricity system, integrated with network operations. It is vital that metering technology provides a cost effective tool to support customers in their energy supply and demand choices but also assist safe, reliable and efficient network operation and services to consumers.

As technology and energy markets develop rapidly, smart meters and other devices will benefit individual customers. Customers should receive practical information and more rewarding tariff structures that match their needs; be able to control their energy use to get better deals and participate in new markets, such as exporting energy to the Grid through solar panels or supporting energy storage options, as these develop commercially.

Importantly, smart meters also provide a simple way to achieve benefits to all customers by assisting network control and management, which supports lower costs as augmentation is delayed. These whole of system outcomes include improved safety, greater access to power quality and outage information to reduce customer time off-supply, and improved outcomes for reliability performance. It has been estimated that the benefits for all customers at the network level from the use of smart meters, can be up to double those achieved for retailers and individual customers.

ENA is concerned to ensure that the metering framework deliver cost effective outcomes in the interests of consumers.  ENA supports a metering framework that achieves desired benefits at the lowest societal cost by:

  • Enabling a safe, competitive, open and fair market for demand side services;
  • Benefiting customers through economic achievement of future network operational benefits;
  • Facilitating broader adoption of smart meters while minimising cross-subsidies and any associated price impact on customers;
  • Enabling a transition to cost reflective network tariffs as quickly as practicable;
  • Maintaining current network services and efficiently leveraging existing investments; and
  • Fostering innovation in energy management solutions for customers and network operations.
  • There are three main types of meters, as described within the table below.

Delivery of efficient network access for all customers relies upon support of cost effective delivery of network services, which require the ability of networks to introduce technology, including smart meters where justified, or cost effective purchase of smart meter enabled services from other parties (which will need light handed regulation to ensure cost effective access), or the network’s ability to retain its own devices to provide competitive pressure to alternative suppliers.